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post #1 of 28 Old 05-24-2012, 08:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi all,
So I wanted to get a relatively nice budget speaker system for my dorm room next year and then after that for an apartment that I would probably move into the next year. I bought the Audioengine 2s, but decided that I would rather get an amp and speakers and subwoofer (for around the same price) and be able to upgrade components as I go. My budget's around $150-200.

Anyway I would probably be using these mostly for music and maybe a movie here or there, but I'm more concerned about music listening.

I was gonna get the TA2020 amp as my amp. Are there any cheap amps that are better than the TA2020? I know there's the Audiosource amp100, but I don't have the money for that right now.

For the sub (which I'm not completely sure I'm gonna get yet) I was thinking
Bic V80
Dayton Sub800
Polk PSW10
The usual recommendations I think. I've read, though, that the Polk is kinda muddy? Are the other two better? How's the Pioneer Sw8? I was thinking of that one too if I can find it for cheap

For speakers I was thinking
Sony SS-B1000
Pioneer BS21
Polk Monitor30
So this is gonna mostly be near field listening, but I will want to upgrade the amp when I'm moving into the apartment to put more power into the speakers. I was gonna pull the trigger on an open box pair of the Pioneers, but I'm a little worried that they might be a little big for my dorm desk, which is not that big, but I might still go for them. Are there other speakers that would be good for a dorm setup?

I'm willing to trawl craigslist for good used equipment if I need to. Thanks for reading all this.
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post #2 of 28 Old 05-24-2012, 08:35 PM
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Where do you live, we can scour Craigslist for you too.

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post #3 of 28 Old 05-24-2012, 08:52 PM - Thread Starter
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haha thanks. I'm in southern CT
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post #4 of 28 Old 05-24-2012, 09:09 PM
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post #5 of 28 Old 05-24-2012, 09:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, but I was gonna put the speakers on my desk. I don't think I even have the floorspace in my dorm for floor standing speakers lol
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post #6 of 28 Old 05-24-2012, 09:21 PM
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This will go on your desk, and new in the box. They are passive
monitors, based off the old Hafler active monitors. They are not
muddy sounding, and no artificial bass boom.
Rockford Fosgate Audionics FA61.0
http://www.ebay.com/itm/180891042433...84.m1438.l2649

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post #7 of 28 Old 05-24-2012, 09:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nike t View Post

Thanks, but I was gonna put the speakers on my desk. I don't think I even have the floorspace in my dorm for floor standing speakers lol

The middle one, the JBL 2600's are monitors. Solid bass to 50hz.
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post #8 of 28 Old 05-25-2012, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nike t View Post

I was gonna get the TA2020 amp as my amp. Are there any cheap amps that are better than the TA2020?

Do you mean the Lepai TA2020A+? There are amps of similar size and superior quality based on the same Tripath TA2020 chip, such as the SMSL SA-36A, but they cost significantly more (especially since you usually have to buy the power supply separately). On a tight budget, and as a temporary measure, I guess the Lepai will do, as they appear to have overcome the quality control issues they had with these units early on.

By the way, all of the TA2020-based amplifiers are limited to about 8-9 watts or so per channel of quality audio at 8 ohms and 12-13 watts at 4 ohms. For nearfield listening at reasonable volumes for most people, this should be plenty.

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Originally Posted by nike t View Post

For the sub (which I'm not completely sure I'm gonna get yet) I was thinking
Bic V80
Dayton Sub800
Polk PSW10
The usual recommendations I think. I've read, though, that the Polk is kinda muddy? Are the other two better? How's the Pioneer Sw8? I was thinking of that one too if I can find it for cheap

Out of these, the budget Dayton subs generally have the best reputation, or at least more of a reputation that is generally positive (for the low price), while the Polk's reputation is the poorest. There is a subwoofer forum here too, by the way.

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Originally Posted by nike t View Post

For speakers I was thinking
Sony SS-B1000
Pioneer BS21
Polk Monitor30

Forget the Sony, but the other two are good for the price. Basically speaking, the Pioneer has a warmer, mellower sound, while the Polk has a brighter, more in-your-face sound. Which would be a better fit for you depends on personal preference. Oh, and the Polk is a lot more efficient than the Pioneer, using about 1/3 the power for the same loudness, if it would make a difference.

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Originally Posted by nike t View Post

Are there other speakers that would be good for a dorm setup?

How much room do you have on your desk? If you need something smaller (and don't mind white), then these are pretty nice (single speaker--order two for a stereo pair):

http://www.accessories4less.com/make...A-White/1.html

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Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post

This will go on your desk, and new in the box. They are passive
monitors, based off the old Hafler active monitors. They are not
muddy sounding, and no artificial bass boom.
Rockford Fosgate Audionics FA61.0
http://www.ebay.com/itm/180891042433...84.m1438.l2649

This looks great and should sound very good (and accurate, which is what I prefer, although some people consider studio monitors "sterile" and "lifeless"--I couldn't disagree more, although it is just subjective opinion), but is it for a pair or a single speaker?
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post #9 of 28 Old 05-25-2012, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay1 View Post

The middle one, the JBL 2600's are monitors. Solid bass to 50hz.

How does the JBL 2600 compare with the Pioneer BS21? It's a bit bigger than I would like.


@Robert Cook: yea I was going to get the Lepai. I don't have so much room. how do those Boston Acoustics compare with the other two speakers? I haven't been able to find so much about them. Also, does being smaller decrease the quality of sound from it compared to bigger speakers? Also I haven't been able to find so much about the Fosgates either
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post #10 of 28 Old 05-25-2012, 02:48 PM
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How do you utilize a subwoofer with one of these amps?
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post #11 of 28 Old 05-25-2012, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Cook View Post


This looks great and should sound very good (and accurate, which is what I prefer, although some people consider studio monitors "sterile" and "lifeless"--I couldn't disagree more, although it is just subjective opinion), but is it for a pair or a single speaker?

Fostgate FA61.0
I stand corrected - I sent an Email > that price is for each.

I sent another Email, to find out if they have a pair. That picture
of a pair is mis-leading. When I bought a pair on close-out in the
past, they were $120 a pair.

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post #12 of 28 Old 05-25-2012, 03:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nike t View Post


Also I haven't been able to find so much about the Fosgates either

^^^^
It doesn't matter much now, they only have one in stock.

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post #13 of 28 Old 05-25-2012, 10:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nike t View Post

yea I was going to get the Lepai. I don't have so much room. how do those Boston Acoustics compare with the other two speakers? I haven't been able to find so much about them.

I haven't listened to the A23 specifically, but if it's anything like its larger brethren, then it should be a good-sounding speaker, especially at this price (looks as though nobody likes white because the black version is still being sold for $139 each). Except for the fact that it doesn't go very deep--only 80 Hz at the -3 dB point, even though it's ported--it should have a more balanced overall sound than the SP-BS21-LR and Monitor 30, which are good examples of warm- and bright-sounding speakers, respectively. It's probably a better speaker overall, although it's hard to say because I've only heard a little of this series, and not the tiny A23. I usually stick to recommending speakers that I've actually listened to, but in this case, it's small and inexpensive, so I thought I'd mention it.

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Originally Posted by nike t View Post

Also, does being smaller decrease the quality of sound from it compared to bigger speakers?

Not necessarily (especially for nearfield listening), but its bass will definitely be lacking in comparison. The subwoofer should largely make up for this deficiency, but at louder volumes the upper bass and mid-bass may still be lacking--maybe that will be an issue, in which case you may have to cross over to the subwoofer at a higher frequency, or maybe in the nearfield it won't be so bad.

If you could possibly accommodate a regular-sized bookshelf speaker, then also consider the Infinity Primus P153BK, which is only $50 each (at Newegg.com, once again--lots of great budget speaker deals there, obviously). This is also a more tonally-balanced or neutral-sounding speaker. Overall, I prefer it to the other speakers we've been talking about. Its main drawback is that like all the others in its basic class, it is not the most "transparent" due to fairly audible cabinet resonances, but otherwise it sounds pretty accurate.

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Originally Posted by Sonyad View Post

How do you utilize a subwoofer with one of these amps?

Good question. You can use the speaker-level inputs and outputs on the subwoofer, although typically there will be no high-pass filtering on the signals passed through to the speakers. It's certainly not ideal, but it's still workable. I'll take a closer look at the subwoofers being considered to find out whether any of them have any advantages in this respect.
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post #14 of 28 Old 05-26-2012, 01:13 AM
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At about $250 a pair I can recommend Mordaunt Short Carnival 2 for your purpose. Very charming, accurate speakers that produce a great sound stage. They are also front ported, which is something worth paying attention to. I auditioned several speakers for this purpose, I have a thread on the experience somewhere (I'm on mobile app now, sorry for not posting the link) which can be found if you search the speaker name.

Edit: Here's the thread.

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post #15 of 28 Old 05-26-2012, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

At about $250 a pair I can recommend Mordaunt Short Carnival 2 for your purpose. Very charming, accurate speakers that produce a great sound stage. They are also front ported, which is something worth paying attention to. I auditioned several speakers for this purpose, I have a thread on the experience somewhere (I'm on mobile app now, sorry for not posting the link) which can be found if you search the speaker name.

Edit: Here's the thread.

Damn Nethawk, you've got me looking at those and I really want them, but I gotta stick to my budget ... for now. I'll definitely look at them when I have enough money to burn and enough space.

I think the plan I might have is to get cheaper speakers now and then more expensive speakers, like the Carnivals, in a year and use the cheap speakers when we want to throw parties and the more expensive pair for actual use.

I think the Infinity pair might be a tad big for my dorm desk. This is a panoramic view of what my room might look like room.

The question about how to use the Lepai with a sub is a good one haha. The Dayton had the HI input and output channels, but the other don't. The Pioneer SW8 is now on sale and I wanted to get that but there's no hi output. Should I try to get the Pioneer or go with the Dayton? I know this is the speaker forum, but I already have this thread here so I thought I'd just ask here.
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post #16 of 28 Old 05-26-2012, 09:08 AM
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I would look closer at the Boston reccomendation, other than the
Fostgate speakers (which are not available), this is my preference.
Some insight on the A speakers - the A series has the same voicing.
The main difference is the bass.
http://www.whathifi.com/review/boston-acoustics-a26

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post #17 of 28 Old 05-26-2012, 09:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok thanks Jim, does what was written about the A26 apply also to the A23? I'm just a little wary about them because I can't seem to find any reviews or posts about the A23
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post #18 of 28 Old 05-26-2012, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nike t View Post

Ok thanks Jim, does what was written about the A26 apply also to the A23? I'm just a little wary about them because I can't seem to find any reviews or posts about the A23

Except for loudness and bass, they are voiced the same. Boston tends
to do good work - they put a lot of effort into the A series. If you look
for reviews on different speakers, then go to CNET and Amazon, most
all speakers tend to get good reviews from them.

Your choice and good luck.

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post #19 of 28 Old 05-26-2012, 03:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Cook View Post

You can use the speaker-level inputs and outputs on the subwoofer, although typically there will be no high-pass filtering on the signals passed through to the speakers. It's certainly not ideal, but it's still workable. I'll take a closer look at the subwoofers being considered to find out whether any of them have any advantages in this respect.

I took a closer look at the subwoofers being considered in general, and didn't find any particularly compelling reasons to choose between them. Both the Dayton SUB-800 and the BIC V80 generally receive high marks for quality and output for their size and price class. The V80 costs $10 more, has a slightly more powerful amplifier, and is somewhat smaller. The latter combination probably means that their output capabilities are similar, since these traits sort of cancel each other out. Other than size, the SUB-800 has a front-firing woofer and a down-firing port, which tends to hide port noise I suppose, while the V80 has a down-firing woofer and a side-firing port, which tends to protect the woofer better in some situations. If your subwoofer is going to be tucked away under your desk, for example, then perhaps the smaller and better protected (from feet) V80 would have an advantage overall in terms of form factor. Also, it supposedly extends a few Hz deeper (37 versus 40), if that's important (deeper extension usually implies less output, but we're not talking about major differences here).

In terms of functionality and connectivity, the SUB-800 is a bit more complete because it has a phase (polarity) switch and speaker-level outputs, while the V80 does not, and in addition it has left & right line-level inputs versus the V80's mono input. Because there are other ways to accomplish most of these functions on the V80, even though it may be less convenient, the only thing that the SUB-800 can do that the V80 cannot is allow you to feed it line-level signals (without using a separate summing circuit). If you had planned to use the speaker-level inputs all along, then I guess this doesn't matter.

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Originally Posted by nike t View Post

Damn Nethawk, you've got me looking at those and I really want them, but I gotta stick to my budget ... for now. I'll definitely look at them when I have enough money to burn and enough space.

Those look good, but with more of a budget later on, you'll have plenty more options as well.

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Originally Posted by nike t View Post

I think the plan I might have is to get cheaper speakers now and then more expensive speakers, like the Carnivals, in a year and use the cheap speakers when we want to throw parties and the more expensive pair for actual use.

You must like to throw small, quiet parties.

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I think the Infinity pair might be a tad big for my dorm desk. This is a panoramic view of what my room might look like room.

I could find a way to fit those speakers, but to each their own.

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The question about how to use the Lepai with a sub is a good one haha. The Dayton had the HI input and output channels, but the other don't. The Pioneer SW8 is now on sale and I wanted to get that but there's no hi output.

In this class of subs, generally all of their high- or speaker-level outputs are not high-pass filtered, but simply paralleled with the high-impedance input inside the sub. You can achieve the exact same effect by connecting speaker cables from both the speakers and the sub to the same amp outputs together (in parallel). In effect, both the speakers and the sub will receive a full-range audio signal, which the speakers will naturally roll off at the low end, and the sub will roll off according to the low-pass filter frequency you select for it. There is no difference between this topology and connecting the speaker-level outputs from the sub to the speakers in apparent daisy-chain fashion. Additionally, the phase or polarity switch can be replaced with reversing the polarity of the speaker cables (obviously this doesn't work for line-level inputs, though).

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Originally Posted by nike t View Post

Should I try to get the Pioneer or go with the Dayton? I know this is the speaker forum, but I already have this thread here so I thought I'd just ask here.

I don't know, the SW8 is generally praised for good audio quality, being sufficiently tight and things like that. It costs a little less (at Newegg.com), but on the other hand it has the weakest amplifier of the bunch (50 watts RMS). Hopefully somebody who has firsthand knowledge of it and some of the others will chime in, otherwise look over the characteristics I discussed above, and do whatever makes you feel the most comfortable for whatever reasons.
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post #20 of 28 Old 05-26-2012, 05:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies Jim and Robert, it's been a great help. Right now I'm leaning towards getting the A23s with the Pioneer sw8 (on newegg and amazon it says that the Pioneer sub is 100 watt rms?). I'm still a little confused how to connect the Lepai with the speakers and the sub. I'm always afraid I will miss the sales haha. Do you think that there might be frequencies that are missed by the A23s and the sw8? I'm not sure how high the sw8 can actually go, it's rated to go up to 150hz, but that might be a little exaggerated.

Edit: ok I read up a little bit and I just run two sets of wires from each of the outputs of the Lepai? One to the sub and one to the speakers?
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post #21 of 28 Old 05-26-2012, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nike t View Post

Do you think that there might be frequencies that are missed by the A23s and the sw8? I'm not sure how high the sw8 can actually go, it's rated to go up to 150hz, but that might be littl eexaggerated.

The sub will hit close to 150hz, it is not a dynamic sub - however it can
give you some tight bass notes, for a dorm size room. If you are using
smaller type speakers, you need something like this.
I wish you had a way to place bigger speakers - a good bookshelf speaker
can give you some decent musical bass, and then you will not need a sub
to take up space, in that room.

I know that budget and space is tight - however, I would still consider this
Sherwood receiver > with free shipping. You will get some power.
http://www.jr.com/sherwood/pe/SHE_RX4105/

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post #22 of 28 Old 05-26-2012, 10:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nike t View Post

Right now I'm leaning towards getting the A23s with the Pioneer sw8 (on newegg and amazon it says that the Pioneer sub is 100 watt rms?).

Hmmm...on Newegg.com it says "Capable of handling 100W dynamic power and 50W FTC power output," while the BIC America website claims "100W RMS, 200W Peak" for the V80. So there is peak, RMS, dynamic, and FTC power, but to what do these terms really correspond? I'm thinking now that maybe Pioneer's "dynamic" means the same as BIC's "RMS" (short-term RMS), that peak is something else (maximum instantaneous power), and that FTC (Federal Trade Commission) power is how much the amp can output continuously. If this is correct, then it looks as though I had wrongly penalized the Pioneer SW-8 because it had more conservative specs. Thanks for catching that.

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I'm still a little confused how to connect the Lepai with the speakers and the sub.

Both the speakers and the sub need to be connected in parallel to the outputs on the amp. That literally means that you connect them to the same terminals on the amp at the same time. Electrically, this is the same, for all intents and purposes, as using the speaker-level outputs on the sub, so you could do it that way if you prefer (and the sub has such outputs)--whatever uses the least amount of speaker cable and is most convenient in terms of layout.

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Originally Posted by nike t View Post

Do you think that there might be frequencies that are missed by the A23s and the sw8? I'm not sure how high the sw8 can actually go, it's rated to go up to 150hz, but that might be a little exaggerated.

Given that A23 is rated down to 80 Hz, at low, nearfield listening levels, I don't imagine that this would be an issue. In a home theater at higher volumes, such a small speaker will likely compress in this range and start to sound "thin," but that's a different situation.

By the way, for what it's worth, the V80 claims to go up to 180 Hz, but you know how it can be with manufacturer's specs (just saw an example above ). Just try to cross the sub over as low in frequency as you can without opening up a gap in the upper bass frequency response.

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Edit: ok I read up a little bit and I just run two sets of wires from each of the outputs of the Lepai? One to the sub and one to the speakers?

Yep, that's all the sub's speaker-level outputs (if it has them) do anyway--connect the speakers and sub in parallel (with the sub's input at high impedance so that it draws a negligible amount of power), feeding both a full-range signal. As a matter of fact, if you think about it, you could connect the speakers' wires to the sub's inputs--it makes no difference whatsoever (except for providing extra space for all the wires, output terminals on the sub are not needed). It's different on some higher-end subs that provide a speaker-level high-pass filter for the speakers, but no low-end sub that I know of has this feature (except perhaps for passive subs or ones designed for use with a specific HTIB system, that is).
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post #23 of 28 Old 05-26-2012, 10:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post

The sub will hit close to 150hz, it is not a dynamic sub - however it can
give you some tight bass notes, for a dorm size room. If you are using
smaller type speakers, you need something like this.
I wish you had a way to place bigger speakers - a good bookshelf speaker
can give you some decent musical bass, and then you will not need a sub
to take up space, in that room.

I know that budget and space is tight - however, I would still consider this
Sherwood receiver > with free shipping. You will get some power.
http://www.jr.com/sherwood/pe/SHE_RX4105/

If I skipped out on the sub for now, what options do I have? I might be able to fit bigger speakers, I means as long as they fit on a desk, it should be alright I think. I was thinking that I would just tuck the sub under my desk in my room

I would want to get a good amp, but I might wait another year before I do get one. For this next year I don't think I'll need to pump out too much power, mostly just nearfield listening. The Lepai should be sufficient for my small dorm room needs right? Unless I'm mistaken in power needs, I've never dealt with speakers before.
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post #24 of 28 Old 05-27-2012, 09:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nike t View Post

If I skipped out on the sub for now, what options do I have?

You still have the larger of the options listed earlier. On the other hand, if you intend to put the money originally allocated for the sub into the speakers rather than back into your pocket, then of course there would be additional options available, such as the Boston Acoustics A25.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nike t View Post

I might be able to fit bigger speakers, I means as long as they fit on a desk, it should be alright I think. I was thinking that I would just tuck the sub under my desk in my room

Subs can work under desks alright as long as they're crossed over low enough, which may or may not be the case with tiny speakers. You may be able to get away with it with the Boston Acoustics A23, but I couldn't tell for sure without trying the system out myself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nike t View Post

I would want to get a good amp, but I might wait another year before I do get one. For this next year I don't think I'll need to pump out too much power, mostly just nearfield listening. The Lepai should be sufficient for my small dorm room needs right? Unless I'm mistaken in power needs, I've never dealt with speakers before.

For comparison, the Lepai puts out about as much power as the amps built into TV sets (5-10 watts per channel typically), so it should be sufficient for nearfield listening, and it could get somewhat louder with efficient speakers. In a home theater system, most people use less than 1 watt (per channel) during non-action scenes at their usual volume level, which shows you how little power is normally needed, even when sitting farther away. However, the same people with the same systems require somewhere in the vicinity of 100 watts per channel (usually held in reserve) to cleanly hit all of the potential peaks in movie soundtracks, so there's the other side of the perspective. With 8-9 watts from the Lepai, you've got about 1/10 of the power, but you're probably sitting less than a meter away, so I'd say that you could play it almost as loud (to your nearby ear) as a regular, typical home theater. This is a VERY rough estimate just to give you some idea, of course--I could do the actual math for you, but I'd need the actual numbers first.
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post #25 of 28 Old 05-27-2012, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nike t View Post

If I skipped out on the sub for now, what options do I have? I might be able to fit bigger speakers, I means as long as they fit on a desk, it should be alright I think. I was thinking that I would just tuck the sub under my desk in my room

I would want to get a good amp, but I might wait another year before I do get one. For this next year I don't think I'll need to pump out too much power, mostly just nearfield listening. The Lepai should be sufficient for my small dorm room needs right? Unless I'm mistaken in power needs, I've never dealt with speakers before.

The Sherwood is free shipping here - I would think hard about it.
http://www.jr.com/brand/sherwood/

The Boston A25 is a solid option for the dorm room.

Your call, and good luck.

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Speakers > MB Quart VS05, Boston VS260, Snell K7
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Receiver > Tascam PAR-200, Pioneer VSX-30
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post #26 of 28 Old 05-27-2012, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok I pulled the trigger on a pair of a25's. I guess I'll hold off on the sub until later. Now it's time to get the amp. I still don't think that I can get that Sherwood, I think my max for the amp/receiver would be like $50, but I'll look around craigslist.
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post #27 of 28 Old 05-27-2012, 02:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nike t View Post

Ok I pulled the trigger on a pair of a25's. I guess I'll hold off on the sub until later. Now it's time to get the amp. I still don't think that I can get that Sherwood, I think my max for the amp/receiver would be like $50, but I'll look around craigslist.

Check the craiglists and pawn shops - that way you can make
sure they do work.

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Speakers > MB Quart VS05, Boston VS260, Snell K7
Subwoofer > Mordaunt Short Aviano 7
Receiver > Tascam PAR-200, Pioneer VSX-30
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post #28 of 28 Old 05-27-2012, 03:37 PM
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Good luck Nike! My apologies for recommending something above budget, I think I read somewhere you're not a true member of AVS without doing so

Jim Z never gives bad advice (my humble opinion) and has more experience than I, you can't go wrong with his recommendations.

Enjoy your new system!

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